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Nate Sestina says Cardinals expect UK to “kind of lay an egg” in rivalry game

Ashton Hagans helped UK beat Louisville last year. Can he do it again? (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

LAS VEGAS — After Kentucky’s second loss in four days in Las Vegas on Saturday, graduate transfer Nate Sestina admitted the locker room mood was “pretty solemn” for the Wildcats.

Kentucky lost 69-66 to Utah on Wednesday when it gave minimal effort at best the first 28 minutes and then fell 71-65 to No. 5 Ohio State on Saturday when it trailed almost the entire game gain.

“We have a team full of guys that are ready to play and the game coming up (against Louisville) is huge for us,” Sestina said. “It’s an in state rivalry. Another big toughness game for us, and the tension around that game is so much more and we know that and the attitude for them coming in,

“The attitude for us coming in, it’s kind of the same thing. It’s two big dogs going after it and whoever is hungrier at the end of the game is going to get the bones as (assistant coach) Kenny Payne said to us tonight.”

Kentucky will host Louisville Saturday afternoon in Rupp Arena. The Cardinals are 11-1 with wins over Miami, Michigan and Pittsburgh and the only loss came to Texas Tech.

The last time Kentucky went into the Louisville game with a two-game losing was 30 years ago. On top of that, UK has only lost more than two straight games once in John Calipari’s 11 seasons but likely will be an underdog against Louisville even with the game in Rupp Arena (remember Evansville has already won in Rupp Arena this year).

“It’s going to be a dogfight and Cal said to us today that they’re like 1-11 against us and however long and that’s big. I mean they’re coming in looking to get a win,” Sestina said. “We’re coming off of two losses.”

Obviously Calipari mentioned the Louisville game a few times before he sent the players home to spend Christmas with their families.

“They think that we’re going to come in and kind of lay an egg, so I think for us and for me personally and even though I haven’t played in this game you understand what it’s like to play in big games and in a rivalry game like this is something that I’m really looking forward to,” Sestina said.

“When I committed here that was one of the games that they talked about, so I’m really looking forward to it. Got to get away, take a little mental break, be home for Christmas. I know everybody’s going to be in the gym, everybody’s going to be working out and we’re going to come back and get after it.”

They better because the Cardinals have shown the will “get after it” and beating Kentucky would be Louisville coach Chris Mack’s signature win with the Cardinals.

However, Calipari has had a knack for pushing teams that struggle early to succeed in March. Could it happen again?

“We had our up-and-downs last year. This year it’s the same thing,” sophomore guard Ashton Hagans said. “We lose, we always hear something but we just got to stick with each other.

“Cal’s coaching us to win in March and so we just got to keep on fighting no matter what happens, just stick with each other like I said earlier and just keep fighting.”

14 comments

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  1. Joe Lunardi has the Cats up to 6th in his latest bracketology.

  2. Playing better in March only matters if you are playing in the right tournament. We may very well have to win the SEC tourney to get in the Big Dance and that is not going to happen. We didn’t hire Calipari to lose 10 games a year and hope to get to the NCAA tourney. We hired him to win national titles and he has shown that he is a one trick pony in that regard. Its time to find a guy who can win more than one.

    1. Is it too late for Nick and EJ to hit transfer portal?

  3. No coach but Rupp has won multiple titles as a head coach for UK. Cal has come close of doing it several times but luck and the officiating wasn’t in our side. I always have said it takes luck of how the ball bounces your way and how the officials are calling the game to win it all during March madness.

  4. “John Calipari: Sporting News college basketball Coach of the Decade”

    Trolls…
    Eat Guano !!!

    1. Had to have been a misprint…..decision must have been made 10 yrs ago.

  5. As I have said before, and no one has answered; Name a coach we could hire that even comes to close to what Cal has done!
    You can’t!!!
    It takes a lot of luck and an exceptional team to win it all. In the tournament, you WILL have games where you have to overcome bias officiating. You WILL have to win games with your offense. You WILL have to win games with your defense.
    No, I don’t like having a new team every year, but since it is what it is, I like to see them do well. I don’t enjoy watching them like I used to, but no other coach has brought the expectations to UK that we have had the last 10 years.
    Every year, except 1 under Cal, UK has been talked about as a team that “could” win it all; then when he doesn’t people start talking like he can’t coach.
    Like Cal says, these kids are not machines and there is not one person that looks at this webpage that could do better. Kids are kids and you never know how they will play together until they get on the floor.

    1. Cal still gets less with more. Cal fatigue is growing!

    2. Jay Wright won 2 national titles in 3 years, but he wouldn’t come here for all of the tea in China. He will probably win another one, maybe two in the next 5 years, that would make 3, possibly 4 titles in 8 years. That is what Calipari should have done at a minimum with all of the talent he has had here.
      You can’t predict what anyone will do in the future, but we know that what Calipari is doing now is not working. Just like Master Po told Qui Chain Kane….time for you to go.

  6. Now he is getter lesser with lesser. Its time for him to move on while he still can. If he stay two more years with the same results, he won’t be able to get a job that has anything to do with basketball, not that he has to with the stupid money we have paid him.

    1. @ Catmanfullofdoodoo:
      Speaking of “moving on”…YOU SHOULD BE GONE
      and you would be gone if you had an ounce of integrity.

      1. Since when were you associated with integrity?

        1. I’m not the one who reneged on a bet.
          Eat your guano.

  7. Did Cal shake hands on Saturday night with his replacement after 2022 season? Rah Rah!

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